Court appoints special prosecutor in Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office investigation
WAUPACA COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Waupaca County Circuit Court has appointed a special prosecutor to review the Sheriff’s Office in an investigation involving allegations of altered reports that could impact court cases.
“In an effort to move forward the District Attorney requested a Public Integrity investigation of the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation. That investigation has been completed. As a result of the criminal investigation into the actions of the Sheriff and some of his administrative staff, the Waupaca County Circuit Court has appointed a Special Prosecutor to review the investigation for possible criminal charges,” says DA Veronica Isherwood.
First Alert Investigates has been following this story since February. CLICK HERE for our report on a hearing involving the investigation.
Action 2 News spoke with Isherwood and Sheriff Tim Wilz Monday.
“If we can’t prove a case, we won’t charge it. And to think that I may have charged somebody in the last three and a half years, where I didn’t have the evidence to prove it just sickens me. I don’t practice law that way. I don’t allow anybody in my office to practice law that way. We want to do things right. We want to preserve everybody’s constitutional rights,” said Isherwood.
Wilz said, “We’ve done nothing wrong, all we want to do is work things out and we are getting no relief. It’s a constant coming after us and the citizens of Waupaca County can’t afford that. We are still doing our job, business as usual, protect and serve, and I took that oath, but not so sure the DA stands behind the oath she took.”
Sheriff Wilz is facing an election challenge Tuesday from Sgt. Cameron Durrant. Isherwood said she felt the information was important to share.
“I acknowledge that tomorrow is a primary election date. But I feel the correct information is important to be shared,” said Isherwood.
Sheriff Wilz called the announcement an “11th hour election stunt.”
STATEMENT FROM SHERIFF WILZ
“In reality, there are no issues of wrongdoing within the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office. Despite months of inefficient use of valuable court time, baseless allegations and a disserve to the victims of crimes in Waupaca County, today’s press release from the District Attorney does no more than hurt the safety of our community.
“In an announcement made by the District Attorney one day before the election, I stand behind the hard-working dedicated employees of the Sheriff’s Office to uphold the rights and freedoms of the community.
“While the District Attorney now attempts to mislead the public by dismissing cases, sighting [sic] issues in the Sheriff’s Office, the reality is she is simply being soft on crime.
“Again, to date there have been no issues of wrongdoing by any employee of the Sheriff’s Office.
“Furthermore, I requested in March of 2022 an investigation of ourselves and the District Attorney’s Office and a letter was sent on June 21, 2022 to the Attorney General’s Office for misconduct charges against District Attorney Isherwood.”
FULL STATEMENT FROM DISTRICT ATTORNEY:
“The Waupaca County District Attorney identified a violation by the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office, which, if not turned over to the defense, would constitute a Brady violation. The violation involved a Detective Captain who incorrectly instructed a deputy that he did not need a search warrant when a suspect’s vehicle was seized and searched because it was suspected to contain evidence of a separate crime that had previously been referred to the District Attorney. That same Captain then changed the deputy’s report to cover up the incorrect direction, concealing exculpatory evidence in the process. Officers who questioned the Captain’s actions were disciplined. The change to the report was never shared with the District Attorney’s Office by administrative staff. Ten days later an anonymous “whistleblower” informed the District Attorney of the violation. After notifying defense counsel, a motion to suppress the evidence found during the illegal search was filed and an evidentiary hearing was held on February 21, 2022 in Waupaca County Circuit Court Branch 3 who found the action of changing the officer’s report and withholding exculpatory evidence to be a “Brady violation”.
“Sheriff Tim Wilz testified as did the Detective Captain and the deputy who conducted the search. Both the sheriff and captain testified the report was not changed, it was “corrected” and that such corrections happen regularly. When asked about a statement the Sheriff made to the District Attorney that was false, the Sheriff testified “I guess I can tell Isherwood anything I want.” This testimony has thrown the District Attorney’s ability to prosecute criminal cases based on Sheriff’s Office referrals into a tailspin. The District Attorney cannot work on correcting the issues with a Sheriff who believes he can lie to her and refuses to acknowledge the unconstitutional actions of a member of his administration staff.
“In an effort to move forward the District Attorney requested a Public Integrity investigation of the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation. That investigation has been completed. As a result of the criminal investigation into the actions of the Sheriff and some of his administrative staff, the Waupaca County Circuit Court has appointed a Special Prosecutor to review the investigation for possible criminal charges.”
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